The Fisheries Ministry has placed an immediate ban on the harvesting, purchasing, sales and export of live coral and aquarium rocks.
Minister responsible, Semi Koroilavesau says this is part of Fiji’s commitment to COP23 last year and its partnership with Sweden on stopping the extraction of live coral from reefs.
Koroilavesau says coral play an essential role in water filtration and fish reproduction to shore line protection and erosion prevention.
_ “Basically the exporters are paying for people to go and use crowbars to chip off live coral and then they put it into aquarium and then regenerate it and then sell it. Also they do with the same as live fish but at the moment the government has decided for conversation purposes, we will stop this exercise. If we continue we know the repercussions so it’s better to make a stop now and make a decisions now for the future before it’s too late.”_
The Minister also adds that coral support an incredible diversity of fish and must be sustained for the future.
”We can’t be going out and saying so many things in international forums and we are not practicing it here in Fiji, it’s a little bit of a double standard if we go and say this should be done and we’re not doing it ourselves. There are other alternatives of livelihood that can be accessed from the ocean. The coral export mainly constitute of mainly three to four exporters and they employ people to harvest coral but we will have to think about our long term sustainable of our reef system.”
The ban on live coral and aquarium rocks came into effect on 28th December, 2017.
The Fisheries Ministry says those who are found breaking the ban could face heavy penalties and fines.